Despite the unprecented success of the World Wide Web and those sites that cover cult television shows, there is still nothing to beat a handy, good, old-fashioned, well-written book! Compiled after almost a quarter of a century of research (read "hard graft"!), Bob Rocca's 640-page tome truly presents the most comprehensive coverage of the original series of The Professionals that there is ever likely to be!
Opening with a foreword by creator Brian Clemens and then a complete reproduction of his series "bible" that acted as a guide for the other writers, the book goes on to explain the general processes and timescales involved in bringing each story to the television screen. This is important background information for the chapters that follow as they deal with the casting of the lead actors (which contains some previously undocumented surprises) and an episode-by-episode breakdown of the highs, lows, pressure, egotism and battles during preparation, actual filming and post-production.
As well as compiling material from other published sources, Bob has interviewed many of the writers, directors, crew and guest stars. Their anecdotes are often funny (for example director Dennis Abey attempting to sneak in a fittingly cheeky rewrite of the closing scenes in the final episode, 'Spy Probe') and refreshingly candid (such as Brian Clemens' forthright views on Shaw and Collins). While the two younger stars' constantly unpredictable relationship is well-documented, so are those of the crew members' dealings with each other, the stars and producer Ray Menmuir.
Each episode is not only accorded a full plot synopsis and cast list (including the many actors and crew who never received an on-screen credit - thanks to Bob I now know who played Claire - or was she Betty? - in 'Old Dog with New Tricks'!) but also a complete rundown of each filming location and date, including additional work required by the "second unit" to fill in gaps left by the first. In a number of cases scenes that were scripted but changed or dropped completely are included in full.
The book is peppered with over 200 previously-unseen photographs of the cast and crew in action.
Despite the wealth of detail, the book is arranged to make it easy to pick which aspects one is interested in, a format that will delight fanatics and casual viewers alike.
The book is available from many of Amazon's international websites (although only as an English-language edition).
With its unrivalled detail, there has never been and - unless Bob issues a second version! - never will be a more complete, yet easily-digestible, document of this historic television series. I wholeheartedly recommend it!!
All images used on this page reproduced by kind permission of Bob Rocca and Bear Manor Media